Effects on metal

So I really like this clock.  I think I'll buy it soon.

But as a beginner's art project, I'm trying to replicate some of the metal effects here.  I'm curious for techniques on how to accomplish some things, like:
  • The back plate is copper, which the artist says is "oxidized".  I expect oxidation to turn copper green, blue, or black, not this silver/grey color.  Any ideas how this was done?  Is it just that it's a light oxidation?
  • I really like the metal texturing here.  I've been able to replicate something similar on copper plate by hand-sanding in one direction with a fine-grained sandpaper.  But notice the vertical texturing on the backplate - how would that have been done??
  • I like the polished metal look of the minute hand contrasting with the reflective look of the hour hand.  How would you do that - similar way as the backplate?  Same with the gear?
  • I've actually made what I think are much prettier nails by taking old (originally quite rusted) square iron nails, removing the rust and grinding the crap out of them with a bench grinder until I get a cool reflective finish.  Doing the grinding in patches gives it almost a hammered metal look while keeping the reflectiveness.  I think the effect is cool and really works with the "old-but-new" look of the square nails.  I'll post before+after pictures if anyone's interested.

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The vertical texturing on the back plate, I have done this by accident on brass.
Sand with coarse sandpaper in one direction then sand with finer sandpaper across the grain of the first sanding not taking the grain of the first sanding completely out.
metalarts5 years ago
The high polish on the one clock hand can be done with a bias cut buff (air flex) and a fine quality compound-graystar for instance.Then on a loose sewn buff with a good color compound.On soft metals this can produce a no. 8 mirror finish.Be sure to solvent wash-clean-before coating.The rpm of most machinery,hand held and otherwise is way to fast to control texture variance and detail.Each new revolution of the wire wheel eradicates what the previous rev has done.Think slow.See the finished work and move methodicaly.Hope this helps...metalarts
metalarts5 years ago
The backplate looks like zink or (most likely) aluminum.Hard to believe any artist or crafter would pay the price for an expensive base metal so he could make it look unlike itself. For the backplate texture..first, sanding(220) on the bias the same general direction as the heavier top strokes will go. Now a dust and distribute of fine black oxide powder. The heavy top strokes are done by hand-not machine.Try a coarse steel bristle paint remover brush (you know the kind) cheap, narrow and stiff. Follow the same bias as before but be somewhat random. Vary the pressure and length of stroke.The last thing you want is for your work to look contrived. Now a blast of compressed air (not to strong) to remove excess oxide.Soften the look with several layers of cheesecloth wrapped around a core of shop rags,daubed randomly across the surface-do not wipe. Thats my read..i'm sure there are other ways.Hope this helps...
Kiteman5 years ago
Polishing would change the apparent colour of an oxidised layer, but are you sure it was "oxidised" and not "anodised"?

As for the texture, I'd guess a wire brush on a grinder.

Interested in pictures?  Of course!  Take lots as you go, and produce a proper Instructable.
Um, isn't anodising using electrical anodes to oxidize?
True, but "oxidised" implies exposure to gaseous oxygen, possibly in the presence of water (eg rust and corrosion).

Anodising adds a much thinner, tougher and even layer, and the colours can be finely tuned (have you seen the rainbows of colour you can achieve by anodising titanium?).

When I was (still able to) practicing blacksmithing as a hobby, I could coat the outside with a really tough oxidation of carbon / iron with a few proper dunks in water and oil. I had a half made sword at one time that lasted 4 years without starting to rust. No other coating needed.

Using the proper methods of controlled oxidation, one can obtain those same rainbow colors too.

Sorry, I don't mean to sound argumentative,  I guess it is one of those "all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares" things  (all anodizing is oxidation but not all oxidation is anodizing :-)

   And I just had to make a "picky" comment since I was unable to sleep and needed to let off some steam :-)
ischorr (author) 5 years ago
Hmmm... For me, the wire brush just produces a fairly even polished effect. It's not exactly mirror finish, but if I scar it heavily by sanding (producing a somewhat similar result to the picture), then apply a wire brush on a grinder, it just buffs the scratches out and leaves me with a smooth surface. Not the interestingly textured surface you see there.

Would I need a particularly large/course/something wire brush, or apply using some technique? My wire brush wheel is only 4", would a much larger one make a big difference?

The description says "oxidized", and says it on a number of similar items they've produced. Can't guarantee accuracy though =)
ischorr (author)  ischorr5 years ago
BTW, here's what I mean. Here's a copper plate that I've been experimenting on. Originally I scarred it by doing some hand-sanding, then used the wire brush on the center. There's a LITTLE bit of texture, but not much. Because of my 4" wheel maybe?

Also, before and after pics of the nail grinding.  It's tough to get the beaten-metal-like shiny effect to show in a photo, but I really like it =)
photo-1.JPGphoto 2-1.JPGphoto 3-1.JPGphoto 1-2.JPG
The metal texturing on the back has been done with a large radius brush wheel.
The hands were probably directly fabricated from pre-finished sheet.